Some of the sport’s most prolific natural talents take to the stage at the 2020 World Matchplay on Monday as…
Some of the sport’s most prolific natural talents take to the stage at the 2020 World Matchplay on Monday as the First Round action continues in Milton Keynes.
Despite the lack of crowd and the unique behind-closed-doors setup, the tournament has already provided a series of thrilling ties, including two tie breaks and five ton-pus averages.
Defending champion Rob Cross became the first, and so far only, seeded player to crash out of the competition on Sunday as he suffered defeat at the hands of German debutant Gabriel Clemens.
Now, a host of other big names will be hoping to avoid a similar fate at the Marshall Arena on Monday night.
World number three Gerwyn Price has historically struggled to produce his best form in this illustrious event, but will hope the change of venue can provide a change of fortunes this time around.
The back-to-back Grand Slam champion reached the Quarter-Finals on his Winter Gardens debut five years ago but has suffered First Round exits in each of his last three appearances.
However, he has incredibly reached four finals and a Semi-Final in his last five ranked TV majors, finishing runner-up in 2019 European Championship, 2019 Players Championship Finals and 2020 UK Open to add to his Grand Slam success.
The Welsh star starts out with a tricky tie against former Lakeside finalist Danny Noppert in what will be their third televised encounter.
Noppert is making his second successive Betfred World Matchplay appearance and is out to register his first win, having gone down 10-6 to Gary Anderson in Blackpool 12 months ago.
Runner-up in last November’s World Series Finals, the Dutch ace will be out to avenge his crushing 10-3 defeat to ‘The Ice Man’ in March’s UK Open.
Daryl Gurney aims to atone for his Blackpool heartache a year ago and he kicks off with a clash against ‘Rapid’ Ricky Evans.
Gurney was on the wrong end of the greatest comeback in World Matchplay history in the Semi-Finals last year, squandering a 15-9 lead in a 17-15 defeat to eventual champion Rob Cross.
The two-time major winner, who also reached the Semi-Finals of this event in 2017, returned to competitive action with runs to the Quarter-Finals and Semis in last week’s Summer Series.
This is a repeat of their fixture at the same stage of the competition last year, in which ‘Superchin’ won 10-7, taking the overall head-to-head record to four apiece.
Evans clung on to the 16th and final qualification spot via the ProTour Order of Merit to seal a second successive Matchplay appearance but will be keen to prove he is not here just to make up the numbers.
He reached his first major Quarter-Final in last October’s European Championship and was runner-up to Gurney in the 2019 German Darts Championship.
The opening match of the night sees multiple major finalist Dave Chisnall take on fans’ favourite Vincent van der Voort.
The tie signals a repeat of their World Championship Second Round meeting last December, which saw Chisnall prevail by three sets to one.
The St Helens ace is a five-time World Matchplay quarter-finalist and will be desperate to finally take the next step and work towards challenging for that elusive maiden major.
Van der Voort’s best run also carried him to the Last Eight back in 2009, and the 44-year-old is making his ninth appearance in the sport’s summer show-piece.
Joe Cullen will have redemption firmly in his sights when he steps up to face Ian White for the second year running in the opening round of the Matchplay.
Cullen suffered a humiliating 10-0 whitewash at the hands of ‘Diamond’ 12 months ago and will relish the chance to put that score right here.
White reached his first major Semi-Final at the Players Championship Finals last November and claimed a ProTour title earlier this season having finished runner-up in another.
The Stoke ace is unbeaten against Cullen since 2015 and boasts a dominant head-to-head record of eleven wins from their 14 matches in total.
Cullen notably reached the Quarter-Finals in Blackpool two years ago, losing to eventual champion Gary Anderson in an epic, and will feel he has unfinished business in this tournament.
The Bradford ace struggled in the recent Summer Series, suffering three First Round exits from the five events, but will look to showcase his top form in front of the TV cameras.
The final match of the night sees two former World Champions and veterans of the World Matchplay lock horns as Adrian Lewis takes on Steve Beaton.
The pair boast the two longest active runs of consecutive World Matchplay appearances, with Lewis’ 16 bettered only by Beaton’s staggering 20.
A new-look Lewis has shed the pounds during lock-down but question marks remain over his form, having lost in the First Round of three of the four Summer Series events he competed in last week.
Runner-up to Phil Taylor at the Winter Gardens in 2013, ‘Jackpot’ remains a significant threat when in full flow, but can ill-afford an off-night against the sport’s most laidback character.
Beaton’s best run in Blackpool came 19 years ago when he reached the Semi-Finals, though he rolled back the years to reach the Last Eight in 2016.
Beaton has twice faced Lewis in this event, in 2007 and 2017, losing on both occasions, but on current form, will be quietly confident he can turn the tables.
The action gets underway from 6pm BST, with First Round matches to be contested over the best of 19 legs.
All matches must be won by two clear legs, with a match being extended if necessary for a maximum of six extra legs before a sudden death leg is required.
Betfred World Matchplay 2020 Match Schedule
Monday July 20
6.15pm Dave Chisnall v Vincent van der Voort
7.15pm Ian White v Joe Cullen
8.15pm Daryl Gurney v Ricky Evans
9.15pm Gerwyn Price v Danny Noppert
10.15pm Adrian Lewis v Steve Beaton